Is Dalton Knecht most-deserving of National Player of the Year?

Dalton Knecht has had a breakout season and dominated throughout SEC play, but is he most-deserving of National Player of the Year?

Texas A&M v Tennessee
Texas A&M v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

The regular season has come to an end, but that doesn't mean Dalton Knecht is slowing down or taking time off to prepare for the postseason tournaments. Since the start of SEC play, Knecht has become a different player. When the lights shine bright, he has shown up for the Vols. Knecht is averaging 20.7 points per game and 27.5 points per game during SEC play.

You can’t get much better than that throughout conference play. The SEC has proven to be a premier conference in college basketball this season, but that hasn’t scared Knecht. Knecht's 27.5 points per game in conference play has been lightning in a bottle for Tennessee’s offense. 

Knecht all but won the SEC Player of the Year award after his dominant performance against the Auburn Tigers. Knecht's main contenders for the award are Alabama's Mark Sears and Kentucky's Antonio Reeves. All three players average around 20 points per game this season, but neither Sears nor Reeves come close to Knecht's numbers since the start of conference play.

Knecht's 27.5 points against SEC opponents is the best in the conference and one of the best in the country compared to the top players in their respective conferences. Among Power 5 opponents, Knecht has the highest average point-per-game line in the country. Regardless of which conference you think is the best in the nation, that is deserving of some national honors.

Knecht’s biggest competition for the award is Purdue’s Zach Edey. The Boilermakers’ 7-foot-4 big man averages 24.1 points per game with 11 rebounds. Edey’s numbers as of late have been good, there’s no doubt. He’s averaging 24.8 points per game and 12.8 rebounds since the start of Big Ten play. 

Edey is also known for getting to the free throw line. A lot of his points come after being fouled, or being fouled on close range shot attempts. This doesn’t make him a worse player, but offers a different style of game compared to many current players, like Knecht, who scores from all areas of the court. 

That is the exact reason why I believe Knecht should win National Player of the Year. He’s not a one-dimensional player, and offers efficiency on both ends of the court, from down low in the paint to beyond the three-point line. 

Then there’s RJ Davis from North Carolina, who averages 21.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He is the front-runner for ACC Player of the Year and will likely be a finalist for the National Player of the Year award. 

Caleb Love from Arizona is another contender for the award. Love is averaging 19.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. He has lit up PAC-12 defenses in his first season since transferring from North Carolina. We saw what he was capable of at UNC last year, and he has doubled-down in Tucson this year. 

Both Davis and Love are similar players to Knecht. There is no doubt that Knecht has the upperhand when it comes to taking over a game, but both players are leaders on their respective teams. Each have helped their team become National Championship contender ahead of their conference tournaments.

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I don't know if there is one player that deserves the National Player of the Year award honors more than another. Every top player in the country works on perfecting their craft for hours on end, put up the big shots and bring their best in the biggest games. I don't know who deserves to be named the best player in the nation, but I do think Dalton Knecht deserves it.